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Costco joins Kroger in recalling frozen berries due to hepatitis A concerns

  • Costco follows Kroger in recalling frozen berries from Townsend Farms after the FDA found hepatitis A in a product sample. 
  • Costco said the recalled product involves its Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend sold in California and Hawaii.
  • The FDA is working with the manufacturer, Townsend Farms, to see if any additional products might be contaminated with the virus, which can cause liver disease. 
  • Frozen berries recalled by Townsend Farms in 2013 caused 165 cases of hepatitis A in 10 states.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a public safety alert following the recall of additional frozen blackberries from Townsend Farms, with Costco joining Kroger in urging consumers to check their freezers for the products due to concerns about hepatitis A. The expanded warning comes after the FDA found evidence of the highly contagious virus in a product sample.

Hepatitis A can cause a liver infection that may not be apparent, but that can lead to serious illness.  

Costco said the recalled product involved its Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend product with best-by dates between Feb. 16, and May 4. Costco only sold the product in stores in San Diego. Los Angles and Hawaii. 

label-kirkland-signature-three-berry-blend.jpg
This Costco frozen berry product was recalled after the FDA found evidence of the hepatitis A virus in a sample. U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Best-by codes located in the white box on the back of the product bag:

  • FEB1620,(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
  • FEB1820,(A),(B),(C),or (D);
  • FEB2920,(A),(B),(C),or (D);
  • MAR0120,(A),(B),(C),or (D);
  • APR1920,(B),(C), or (D);
  • APR2020(A),(B),(C),(D),(E), or (F);
  • APR2720(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
  • APR2820(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
  • MAY0220(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
  • MAY0420 (H).

Back in 2013, Fairview, Oregon-based Townsend Farms pegged pomegranate seeds from Turkey in recalling frozen berry blends sold by Costco in which 165 people in 10 states were confirmed to have become ill from hepatitis A, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the FDA and CDC, there have been no customer illness reports to date related to any product manufactured by Townsend using these blackberries.

An FDA spokesman said the agency could not "speculate" on whether additional recalls related to Townsend frozen berries would be announced, and Townsend did not immediately return requests for comment.

The current recall involving frozen berries sold at Costco comes within a week of Kroger's recall of three private-label branded products sold at all of its nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states. The grocery chain operates stores under more than 20 names, including Smith's, Fred Meyer and Pick 'n Save. Other than Harris Teeter, all were impacted by the recall, a company spokeswoman said. 

The following products, also manufactured by Townsend Farms, should not be consumed and can be returned for a refund or replacement, Kroger said last Friday in a news release. 

  • PRIVATE SELECTION FROZEN TRIPLE BERRY MEDLEY, 48 OZ (BEST BY: 07-07-20; UPC: 0001111079120);
  • PRIVATE SELECTION FROZEN TRIPLE BERRY MEDLEY, 16 OZ (BEST BY: 06-19-20; UPC: 0001111087808);
  • PRIVATE SELECTION FROZEN BLACKBERRIES, 16 OZ (BEST BY: 06-19-20, 07-02-20; UPC: 0001111087809)

The recalled products have a two-year shelf life, warned the FDA, which said it is investigating to determine if other products contaminated with the virus were distributed elsewhere. 

blackberries.jpg
Recalled product sold by Kroger. U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Those who've consumed the product and who have not been vaccinated for the hepatitis A virus, or HAV, should consult with a doctor, the FDA said

HAV is spread when someone ingests the virus, usually through person-to-person contact or from eating contaminated food or drink. Food can be contamination with HAV while being grown, harvested, processed, handled or even after after cooking.

There were an estimated 4,000 hepatitis cases in the U.S. in 2016, with HAV rates declining more than 95% since a vaccine became available in 1995, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.